Audi hybrids win 24 Hours of Le Mans

Audi hybrids win Le MansIn an historic first, an Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro became the first hybrid to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. A second hybrid followed the winning car to the podium, while a conventional, diesel-powered Audi placed third.

Fittingly Audi No. 1, driven by the team of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, and Benoit Treyuler, came first, completing 378 laps in 24 hours. The No.2 Audi, driven by Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen, and Alan McNish, placed second.

Le Mans is one of oldest, and most challenging, races on the international circuit. As a 24-hour endurance race, it puts drivers’ stamina to the test.

A few mistakes nearly cost the Audi No.1 team the win. Fassler spun the car in the 14th hour, giving the lead to McNish. He later drove into the gravel, damaging the R18’s rear bodywork. Treyuler also spun the car, in the 21st hour. McNish hit a wall in his No.2 car, causing some bodywork damage.

Audi was not the only car company to field a hybrid at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unfortunately, rival Toyota’s TS030 was plagued by crashes. At the end of the fifth hour, Toyota No. 8 was bumped by another car, sending it flying into the tire barrier. The race was stopped for 75 minutes to clean up the wreckage. “Well that was a big one! Lying in a French hospital with a broken back,” driver Anthony Davidson tweeted after suffering fractures to two vertebrae.

Toyota’s other car was pulled out of the race after Kazuki Nakajima collided with the Nissan DeltaWing during a pass attempt. Toyota’s mechanics couldn’t fix car No. 7, and the team was out of the race by the 11th hour.

The winning Audi hybrid is based on the R18 TDI that won Le Mans in 2011, and placed third in this year’s race. The R18 E-Tron Quattro is powered by a 3.7-liter turbodiesel V6, assisted by an electric motor. The diesel powers the rear wheels, while the electric motor powers the fronts. Unlike most hybrids, which carry heavy batteries to store their electricity, the R18 uses a spinning flywheel to keep the juice flowing.Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro front view

Hybrid systems gave Audi and Toyota a couple of competitive advantages. Electric power cuts fuel consumption, meaning fewer pit stops. The electric motors’ low-end torque also helped the cars accelerate faster out of corners. Racing hybrids also draw attention to both companies’ numerous production hybrids.

2012 marked Toyota’s first appearance at Le Mans since 1999, while Audi has won 10 Le Mans races since 2000. In 2006, the German company made the diesel engine into a race-winning technology, and now the R18 E-Tron Quattro’s win is another notch in the company’s belt. “We’re the first to win with a diesel-hybrid car,” said Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of Audi Sport. “I think it’s very special because that’s something that will pave the way for the future.”

However, it’s hard to say whether hybrids will take over racing. With 2009 winner Peugeot out of the running, Audi lacked a serious competitor. The third place-finishing R18 Ultra actually set the fastest time, and pitted the same amount of times as the No. 2 E-Tron Quattro.


Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.

Alfa Romeo’s latest Ferrari-powered F1 race car is ready to hit the track

Alfa Romeo is doubling down on Formula One racing after a decades-long hiatus. Now essentially a support team for Ferrari, its 2019 driver lineup includes a former world champion and a potential future star.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Psychedelic Volkswagen Microbus from Woodstock returns for an encore

With its trippy paint scheme, the Volkswagen "Light" bus became a symbol of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. VW teamed up with the artist who created this rolling mural to stage a comeback in time for Woodstock's 50th anniversary.

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.

2020 GMC Acadia toughens up on the outside, gets smarter on the inside

The 2020 GMC Acadia crossover gets styling updates and a more rugged AT4 trim level. Under the skin, the Acadia sports a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a wider array of tech features.

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.